January 16, 2024

CRITIQUE-PTRG Seminar: Dependent Capitalism and the Paradox of Democratic Founding – 13 May 2024, 3pm

In this pre-red seminar, Prof Inés Valdez (John’s Hopkins) will discuss her paper ‘Dependent Capitalism and the Paradox of Democratic Founding’.

Abstract: This paper presents a novel account of the paradox of postcolonial founding. Building upon Marxist dependency theorists Vania Bambirra, Ruy Mauro Marini, and Alvaro López, I diagnose a core tension between democratic enfranchisement and dependent development. Because of dependent countries’ role providing intensively exploited labor alongside raw materials to feed workers and machines in the metropole, their economic insertion in the world clashes with their demands for political and economic enfranchisement. Moreover, because their demands for emancipation are at once claims against the use of their national resources by industrialized countries, the latter have motive to intervene in support of their interests. This both activates anti-capitalist labor movements and insurgency and violent repression, reorienting the role of the military toward politics supported by external actors’ determination to maintain unfettered access to labor and raw materials. In these terms, authoritarianism is not just a failure of democratic founding but the political expression of the struggle over structural dependency. The paper reconstructs the sui generis form of capitalism characteristic of Latin American countries and connects the particular forms of capitalist circulation and production to the political contradictions outlined. Further, by grounding this conflict in the geopolitical context of the postwar era, the paper theorizes the paradox of dependent founding, i.e., the limits to democratization imposed by the dual character of Latin American capitalism as both dependent and constitutive of United States’ capitalism.

This seminar is being held jointly by CRITIQUE and the Political Theory Research Group. It will take place between 3pm-4:30pm on Monday 13th May in Chrystal Macmillan Building room 3.15.

Please note that this a pre-read seminar. To get a copy of the paper to be discussed, contact the PTRG convenor, Tom O’Shea (